Picture this: you’re a barista at Starbucks working the drive-thru. A car pulls up, you ask for their order, and you hear a throat clear on your headset. The voice that gives their order is overly-chipper, trying too hard at a bright tone. When they roll up to the window to pay, you see red-rimmed eyes, a streak of mascara down the woman’s cheek that was missed, and that same false brightness as they thank you for the coffee.
That was me about a month ago – not the friendly barista, but the melted-faced-woman at the drive-thru. I had just stormed out of the house, sat in the car, bawled for ten minutes, then drove to Starbucks. It had been a rough day with the kids. Everyone was alive, no one was injured, but the mounting noise of the day – tantrums, meltdowns, hungry baby screeches, new teeth, sibling brawls, public embarrassments, and short tempers – had all piled into my belly until I had exploded. Echoes of bad mom, no patience, and I’m not happy circled in my mind.
Have you ever had a day like that?
After grumping away from my husband and three kids, I sought solace in the anonymity of a coffee shop drive-thru, a radio turned up too loud, and a warm paper cup of coffee. It abated some of the noise, but I still was left with that empty, purposeless feeling.
Because the truth is? This season of life is demanding in mundane-ness. I am the filler of cracks. I am the in-between for the bigger pieces. I am necessary and yet forgotten.
Do you ever feel like this? Maybe you’re a mother like me, and so much of your days (and nights) are spent doing tiny, insignificant things that don’t always feel fulfilling. And yet, when they don’t go right? All hell breaks loose. Maybe you’re a student swimming in an endless flood of papers and homework and lectures and syllabi. Maybe you’re deep in a job you don’t like. Or maybe you’re looking for work to fill your days; so many job applications, so many times repeating your information to another form, another website, another fill-in-the-blank.
In clearing out a lot of the clutter in our house, I discovered a hoard of notebooks and documents from my company days. These notebooks – filled with notes to myself, information about a project, sticky notes about what to remember for a meeting – this was my life before kids. I was pretty good at what I did (at least I think so?? If my former co-workers are reading this, feel free to comment plenty of affirmations at the bottom of the post. Please). I felt fulfilled by my accomplishments. I could proudly talk about what I did, because it felt like it made a difference. But as we literally move out of our house in the coming weeks, I had to start clearing out things that weren’t needed. Things that were irrelevant. And my notebooks to track projects from my company days needed to go. So they’re off to the shredder, and I think fondly back on my days of meetings and emails and phone calls and heels.
As I purge out the remaining relics of working nine to five, before the responsibility of kids and bedtimes and proper nutrition, I need to remind myself: I AM NOT THE SUM OF THE NOISE. Just because my day is weighed in diapers changed, teeth brushed, meals prepped, laundry forgotten, school duties tallied, and keeping my cool when the existence of the world balances on the purple spoon or the red spoon, I AM NOT THE SUM OF THE NOISE.
And you? Your worth is not decided on the success of the day, the mood of the partner, the failings of a small child, or the outcome of a test. Do you need the same words that I did? I will gladly share them: YOU, yes you, ARE NOT THE SUM OF THE NOISE. You have triumphs amidst the awful, you have success between the failing, you are so much more than the tally of your day.
As I write the last few thoughts of this post, I’m sitting in a different coffee shop. No drive-thru this time. My mascara is poorly applied but not tear-streaked. I’m still doused in dry shampoo, but I didn’t leave the house in a hottmessuvamom mode. Some of the days will be AWFUL-CRAZY-HARD, and you will question your worth and your existence and why you do what you do. But then a slightly better day will come along, and the reminders of good friends, and well brewed coffee, and the presence of a little sunlight on your skin will tell you there is beauty in the world, and you are a part of that beauty, not the noise.
Still a HOTTMESSUVAMOM,